The US State Department has updated its travel advice for South Africa this week – slapping a Level 4 ‘do not visit’ warning on our fair country. At first glance, it seems the concerns are mainly motivated by COVID-19 and the 501Y.V2 variant that originated in Mzansi – but several jarring, non-pandemic-related advisories have also been issued.

US travel advice for South Africa – it goes beyond COVID-19

Level 4 is the toughest possible travel warning the United States Government will give out. We’re on the same naughty step as North Korea, Libya, and Afghanistan. However, we’re joined by most of mainland Europe, and a whole host of diplomatically-friendly countries too. About 80% of all countries have been put onto the red list, solely for health reasons.

Indeed, the first paragraph on the State Department’s page for South Africa reads amicably enough…

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for South Africa due to COVID-19 – indicating a very high level of coronavirus in the country. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID19 in South Africa.” | US State Department

Level 4 travel warning for South Africa due to ‘crime, unrest’

Then things take a different turn. Unlike most other countries busted down to Level 4, the US warns against ‘violent crime, attacks on vehicles, and the threat of high-risk protests’ in its assessment of South Africa.

Aside from health directives, we’ve got advisories for crime and civil unrest. Even a cautious mention of ‘natural disasters’ was published, with US officials still wary of water shortages in certain provinces…

“Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and ‘smash-and-grab’ attacks on vehicles, is common. There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark. Furthermore, demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently.

“These can develop quickly without prior notification, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services; such events have the potential to turn violent. South Africa’s Western, Eastern, and Northern Capes are experiencing a severe drought. Water supplies in some areas may be affected.”

Travel advice from the Biden Administration

Charming; and the review from Team Biden doesn’t stop there either. The White House has shared a list of guidance for travellers to South Africa, telling visitors to ‘avoid informal settlements’ and ‘keep all doors locked’:

  • – “Avoid walking alone, especially after dark.”
  • – “Avoid visiting informal settlement areas unless you are with someone familiar with the area.
  • – “Do not display cash or valuables.
  • – “Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
  • – “Always carry a copy of your passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location.

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Presh JM Reporter

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